Read about the game’s history and play a _____ one about TODAY
By Leonard Stern
updated 1:56 p.m. PT, Wed., April. 16, 2008
Do you remember playing Mad Libs as a kid? As the zany word game turns 50, TODAY has the story about how the game came to be. Plus, author Leonard Stern also wrote an exclusive Mad Lib about the TODAY show just for TODAYshow.com readers (see next page). But first, here's an excerpt about the game's history from “The Best of Mad Libs.”
The creation of Mad Libs is directly linked to my inability to spell hyperbole in a seventh-grade spelling bee. Humiliated and embarrassed beyond words, I ran home to take refuge in the family dictionary, determined to learn the correct spelling and exact meaning of as many words as humanly possible. The dictionary became my constant companion — my roommate. Even today, it’s by my bedside, and on sleepless nights I make a point of learning at least one new word. Last night it was orthogonal.
The first sighting of Mad Libs happened in 1953, and it remains indelibly etched in my mind. I was in my New York City apartment overlooking Central Park working on a Jackie Gleason Honeymooners script. Actually, I was sitting and staring at the typewriter (I still use one), searching for the precisely right adjective to describe the nose of Ralph Kramden’s new boss. After wallowing in clichés for 30 minutes, I was ready to throw in the thesaurus when Roger Price, my best friend, fellow wordaholic, and the most original thinker I’d ever met — one of a kind of which there was no kind — showed up at my apartment.
Oh, the many moments of childhood hilarity I owe to Mad Libs! They're good for teaching kids the parts of speech too. My college students today who can't identify what a noun or a verb is surely could have benefited from these...